"The Famous First Post". At the time I had no idea that A Shroud of Thoughts would last so long. At the same time I had no idea that in some ways the blog would become my life's work. I have actually been writing A Shroud of Thoughts longer than I have held most jobs!
Of course, before I commend myself too much for hitting the 10 year mark, I have to point out that there are blogs that are as old as and one that is even older than A Shroud of Thoughts. Immortal Ephemera was started as a website by Cliff Aliperti way back in 2002 and the blog dates to April 2003. It is devoted to classic films and movie collectibles and is still going strong today. Inner Toob was started by Toby O'Brien not long before I began A Shroud of Thoughts. He made his first post on the blog on 24 April 2004. Inner Toob is devoted to examining television as an alternate reality and is still running. The Stop Button is just a little younger than A Shroud of Thoughts and Inner Toob. Andrew Wickliffe started it on 20 February 2005. The Stop Button is devoted to film, covering everything from the Silent Era to the modern era. It too is still running. I am proud to call all of these excellent bloggers my friends and proud that all of us have kept our blogs going for so long.
Indeed, here I have to point out that it is rare a blog reaches one year in age, let alone ten. Way back in the Naughts, Perseus Development Corporation did a study on the phenomenon of blogging. They found that 66% of all blogs had not been updated in over two months and many had apparently been abandoned. About a quarter of them boasted only a single post, made on the day the blog was created. I rather suspect that things have changed very little since the Naughts, which means that Immortal Ephemera, Inner Toob, The Stop Button, and A Shroud of Thoughts are positively ancient in blog terms!
For those of you who were not online in the years 2002 to 2005, were too young to remember those years, or simply have forgotten them, blogs became something of a fad at that time. While blogs had been around since the mid-Nineties (indeed, Jorn Barger coined the term weblog in December 1997 and Peter Merholz shortened weblog to blog in the spring of 1999), it was in those years that the mainstream media really began to take notice of blogging. During those years it seemed as if everyone and his or her brother had a blog, even if it was for a short time.
In fact, I got the idea for A Shroud of Thoughts from a lady friend who had her own blog. Blogging looked like fun to me and as a result I decided to start my own blog. At that time the fashion was to give blogs titles with some variation of the word "thought" in them. For that reason I took the title for this blog from a phrase in from Lord Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage canto iii stanza 113:
I have not loved the world, nor the world me;
I have not flattered its rank breath, nor bow'd
To its idolatries a patient knee,
Nor coin'd my cheek to smiles, nor cried aloud
In worship of an echo; in the crowd
They could not deem me one of such; I stood
Among them, but not of them; in a shroud
Of thoughts which were not their thoughts, and still could,
Had I not filed my mind, which thus itself subdued.
Of course, if I had it to do all over again I would have probably given A Shroud of Thoughts a name more fitting a blog devoted to popular culture. Unfortunately, by the time I seriously considered changing the name of the blog it already had a small following. I worried it would confuse people if I changed its name, so A Shroud of Thoughts it has remained all this time.
From the beginning A Shroud of Thoughts was devoted to pop culture and nostalgia, although in the early days I would also write things of a more personal nature. Eventually I decided to stop writing personal posts almost altogether. Aside from being a rather private individual, I have to confess I think most people do not find my life terribly interesting! A Shroud of Thoughts would change in other ways over the years as well. At one time I reviewed much more recent films and television shows in the blog on a regular basis, something which has long since fallen by the wayside. I did not make a conscious decision to stop reviewing more recent films and TV shows. It is simply a case that I am much more interested in classic films and television shows and as a result posts on those topics began to dominate. Another unfortunate change in A Shroud of Thoughts has been that in the past several years I have found myself writing many more eulogies for those who have died. Sadly, it seems that the past few years the celebrities of the Golden Ages of Film and Television, as well as other media, have started dying at an accelerated rate.
Not only has A Shroud of Thoughts changed over the past ten years, but so has my own life. Since I started this blog I quit one job and took another from which I was eventually laid off after seven years due to the economy. I have twice became an uncle again as well. On a sadder note, my best friend died at an exceedingly young age in 2011. On a happier note I published a book, Television Rare & Well Done.
Of course, society and popular culture have also changed a good deal since 2004. While smartphones have been around since the Nineties they were exceedingly rare in 2004. Most people were still using ordinary mobile phones on which one can talk and text and not much else. Today smartphones are much more common. Similarly, while tablet computers have been around since the Nineties, they were far from commn in 2004. Today the sales of tablets actually outpaces that of desktop computers. Social media websites were still very much in their infancy in 2004. MySpace was less than a year old when this blog started and Friendster was a little older. Of course, today there are many more social media sites, including Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and others. Indeed, in the time A Shroud of Thoughts has existed MySpace rose to become the biggest social media site and then over years declined until it is a mere shadow of its former self.
As to what 4 June 2004 was like itself, not a terribly lot happened on that day. Perhaps the most notable thing as far as pop culture was concerned is that the film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban received its wide release in the United States. It was the third film in the wildly successful "Harry Potter" series and went onto make $796,688,549 at the box office. 4 June 2004 was also the date that the Ritchie Havens compilation album Dreaming as One: The A&M Years was released. The album was released on Mr. Havens' own Stormy Forest label and included the two albums he had recorded while at A&M Records, The End of the Beginning (1976) and Mirage (1977), along with some other material. As far as television goes, it was on 4 June 2004 that a show called Impact Wrestling debuted on Fox Sports Net. The show later moved to Urban America Television and later Spike TV, where it still airs.
As to what aired on the broadcast networks the night of 4 June 2014, the answer is not much of interest. In fact, I'd dare say most of the shows that aired that night have long since been forgotten. That night ABC aired George Lopez, Married to the Kellys, Hope & Faith, and 20/20. CBS aired Joan of Arcadia, JAG, and 48 Hours. Fox aired the movie Cats and Dogs on their movie anthology series Fox Night at the Movies. NBC aired Dateline NBC and Las Vegas, while UPN aired the movie American Outlaws on their movie anthology series UPN's Night at the Movies. The WB aired Reba, What I Like About You, and Grounded for Life. Notably, of the networks of the time two are no longer in existence In 2006 UPN and The WB would merge to form The CW. Only two of the shows that aired that night are still airng. Dateline NBC still airs on Friday nights, while 48 Hours moved to Saturday night the following season and has remained there since.
Beyond popular culture not much of historical importance happened on 4 June 2004. Perhaps the most bizarre news item of the day was the rampage of a welder and an automobile muffler repair shop owner on a specially modified bulldozer in Granby, Colorado. The man had modified the bulldozer so that it was bulletproof and then proceeded to demolish Granby's City Hall, Granby's former mayor's house, and several other buildings. Fortunately, no one was killed during the rampage, although sadly the culprit killed himself with a handgun at its end.
One thing that has not changed since 2004 is that blogs are still plentiful. There are some people today who claim that blogs have decreased in their importance since the Naughts and that discussion has since moved to various social media sites. Personally I don't believe this is true. If anything there are more blogs now than ever and, if the statistics for my blog are any indication, people are still reading them. In fact, I get more hits on my blog than I ever have. What is more, that seems to be true of every blog I read. Perhaps discussion has largely moved to social media sites, but then I have to point out that most bloggers I know post links to their blog posts on social media sites where discussion about the blog posts then ensues. Quite simply, it seems to me blogs are as significant as ever, I think it is just a case that discussion has moved from the comment sections of blogs to social media sites. I rather suspect blogs will be around as long as the World Wide Web. I know I intend to continue writing A Shroud of Thoughts until I am no longer able to.
Anyhow I want to thank anyone and everyone who has ever read this blog over the years. as well as my fellow bloggers who have supported me in this endeavour. I really don't know if A Shroud of Thoughts would have survived the past ten years without them. I encourage you to visit my fellow bloggers' blogs listed on the right sidebar. You won't regret it!
Every year I publish what I feel to be my best posts of the past year (for this year I did that yesterday). It then seems fitting that since A Shroud of Thoughts has now lasted ten years to post a list of what I think are the best posts of the past decade. I have chosen two posts for each year, counting series of posts as "one" post. Here I have to point out that some posts are missing images. Quite some time back every single image was wiped from the blog and I haven't gotten around to all of replacing them!
"The Vanguard of Mars Part One" (3 September 2004)
"The Vanguard of Mars Part Two" (4 September 2004)
"The Architecture of Cinemas" (10 May 2005)
"The Rise and Fall of The Independent Television Station" (13 June 2005)
My series "The History of Heavy Metal" (the week of 5 February 2006)
"The Most Successful Studio Never to Exist" (11 June 2006)
"The 70th Anniversary of the Hindenberg Disaster" (6 May 2007)
Superman's Pal, the Smut Monger" (29 August 2007)
"Doc Savage's 75th Anniversary" (1 March 2008)
Bus Stop: A Lion Walks Among Us" (14 September 2008)
My series "Spy Shows of the Sixties" (the week of 4 January 2009)
Mama Told Me Not to Come: The Sixties Party Scene on Film (2 Feburary 2010)
All of Your Toys: The Monkees vs. Don Kirshner" (17 April 2010)
"In Honour of John Lennon's 70th Birthday" (9 October 2010)
"The Avengers Turn 50" (7 January 2011)
"50 Years of The Dick Van Dyke Show" (3 October 2010)
My series on "Paramount's 100th Anniversary" (the week of 6 May 2012)
"Naming Names: The Rise & Fall of Confidential Magazine Part One" (19 August 2012)
"Naming Names: The Rise & Fall of Confidential Magazine Part Two" (20 August 2012)
"The Beatles and James Bond: 5 October 2012"
"The 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who" (23 November 2013)
"The Birth of Beatlemania in America Part One" (8 February 2014)
"The Birth of Beatlemania in America Part Two" (9 February 2014)
Again, I would like to thank everyone who has ever read this blog, as well as my fellow bloggers. As I said, without you I doubt A Shroud of Thoughts would have lasted ten years! Here's hoping that it can last another ten, at least.